The trouble with community theaters staging plays by William Shakespeare is that they have to appeal to families since bread-and-butter shows require adults to bring their children to fill seats. Well, some little folks – and even larger ones – find the Old English of the Bard’s era to be a bit tough to wiggle through.
Tacoma Little Theatre solved that problem by staging the whole canon of Shakespeare’s works as an impromptu comedy that spans the width and breadth of the legendary playwright’s works through a series of skits that range from a football game, to puppet show, to a cooking show. Sure, the nuance and subtle sub plots of these classic plays get lost in the conversion, but that is sort of the point. Dancing dudes in drag never fails to get children laughing, especially with the actors pull in the audience with chants and gags. This returning show is full on camp and Shakespearian goodness. All 37 comedies, histories and tragedies the Bard wrote get at least shout-outs in ways adults will find hilarious and children will not only understand but laugh out loud from the overflowing absurdity of the show.
“The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) [revised],” is directed by Suzy Willhoft and has veteran actors Luke Amundson and Blake York going head one with up-and –comer Coleman Hagerman to present a collection the best plays ever written in the English language. They succeed.
The show was staged for a short run of two weekends last year and played to full houses, so TLT know it had a hit worth staging again and brought it back this season for a full run. Amundson and Hagerman anchored the show last year and opted in this go around as well. The uber-talented York replaces Alex Smith, who rounded out the cast last year. Some tweaks and changes and updates were folded into the batter of Shakespearian goodness to make this a show to watch again. It’s just that funny. Rounding out the fun show was the special touches in the costume department by Michele Graves and puppets by Sarahann Rickner.
One criticism, if you would like to call it that, is that the show might have been a bit too polished. The whole concept is that three guys are tasted with educating the audience about the works of Shakespeare in a way that is accessible and fun. So, they do the cooking show and football explanations, “impromptu” for the audience’s benefit. Since two of the three actors are repeaters in their roles, it would have been interesting to get a bit more “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” with the script that showcase the improv skills the actors have. Having the actors laugh at their own absurdity while they round out the script with stream-of-thought lines would have been theater gold.
“The Complete Works of Shakespeare (abridged) [revised],” runs at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays through Sept. 22. Tickets are $10 and available online at http://www.tacomalittletheatre.com or call the box office at (253) 272-2281. The theater is located at 210 North ‘I’ St.